It’s something that’s faded just a touch, but one might notice that more than a few New York Rangers made their way to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
At this time, it doesn’t appear that one of their most blustery faces in recent memory – former head coach John Tortorella – will be taking up residence in Ohio.
That goes for the rest of the NHL’s struggling teams, too.
The Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline floated a rather interesting nugget on Saturday: teams aren’t calling the Vancouver Canucks to receive permission to inquire about Tortorella:
Torts made quite the show about focusing on helping the U.S. on the international level, and here’s one clear reason (*cough* money *cough*) to see why he may be inclined to wait for the absolute perfect offer:
So, there you go. At the moment, no one’s asking about Torts.
Let’s admit that it would be fun to return his fiery spectacle to the headlines, and Columbus would rank as maybe the most bizarre locale (imagine him hugging it out with Brandon Dubinsky?).
The above at the moment is there for a reason: it’s dangerous to rule out much of anything, especially with a team in an increasingly desperate situation like Columbus.
Just look at how happy Todd Richards is to sleep:
The other bit of Blue Jackets news today is a bit off the beaten track, but still not very promising:
Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Kesler got into the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge this week.
Though it doesn’t have the production value of say Paul Bissonnette, it certainly is something.
Take a look:
After dropping his shorts to reveal his skin-tight bathing suit, Kesler proceeds to ride one of his kid’s toy cars out to the driveway where a pick up truck dumps the water on Kesler and a friend.
The former Canuck also nominates his three former coaches Marc Crawford, Alain Vigneault and John Tortorella. Noticeably absent from those he called out is his new coach Bruce Boudreau.
According to a release by the ALS Association, the organization has received $94.3 million in donations between July 29 and Aug. 27. By comparison, during the same time period in 2013 it received $2.7 million in donations.
Related: Video: Luongo’s amusing Ice Bucket Challenge
When Rick Nash arrived in New York in a trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets, the pressure was on him to resuscitate an offense that had gone dormant under then head coach John Tortorella.
After a year under Alain Vigneault and an appearance in the Stanley Cup Final that saw Nash not exactly carry the load offensively throughout the playoffs, there’s a lot of pressure on Nash to prove his worth now more than ever.
Such is the price to pay when you’re under the bright lights in New York City.
Nash’s first season with the Rangers was a strong one as he scored 21 goals with 42 points in 44 games of the lockout-shortened 2013 season. Last season, his first under Vigneault, things didn’t go quite as well as he scored 26 goals with 39 points in 65 games.
Things didn’t get better in the playoffs. Nash scored three goals with 10 points in 25 postseason games and the Rangers ultimately fell to the Los Angeles Kings in five games.
Nash’s regular season point total was his worst in a full season since his rookie year. His playoff performance had Rangers fans howling for him to do more while a host of other forwards including Derick Brassard, Mats Zuccarello, and Chris Kreider all put up more points.
Vigneault and Nash both stressed that the chances were there and that he was doing other things to help them win, but it’s goals and points that people remember and not opportunities.
After seeing the Rangers come as close to the Stanley Cup as they’ve been since winning it in 1994 and coming up short, Nash is the guy who faced the most criticism. He’s also the guy that will head into the new season with a target on his back if he doesn’t return to the form that made him the 40-goal scorer the Rangers thought they were getting.
With the number of free agent departures New York had this summer, some think the team could slip and wind up in a fight to make the playoffs. It’ll be up to Nash to try and make sure that doesn’t happen while also feeding his critics a bowl of crow.
Three seasons ago, Alexander Edler appeared to be a revelation on the Vancouver Canucks blue line. His 11 goal and 49 point season showed him to be a threat to score both at even strength and on the power play.
Since then, his production has slipped and they could use that version of him more than ever now.
Last season, Edler battled injury and poor play as he had 22 points, the same as he had in the lockout-shortened 2013 campaign, but checked in with a minus-39 plus-minus rating – worst in the NHL. Say what you will about that statistic, but if you’re a defenseman you never want to have a negative number, especially not the league’s worst.
For Edler, he’s never been much of a possession-dominant blue liner but instead has relied on his physical play and offensively-gifted skill set to get him by. As Canucks President of Hockey Operations Trevor Linden told Ben Kuzma of The Province back in June, he and Edler both know he has the skills to get his game back.
“He’s got all the tools to be a dominant No. 1 defenseman,” Linden said. “He’d be the first to admit he didn’t have a good year, and part of our job is to recapture the Alex Edler that we all know he can be. He has the skill-set that every team wants and we just have to get him back where he should be.”
Getting him back there may have a lot to do with keeping the Sedins healthy and perhaps getting back to playing more of a skill-style game as opposed to what John Tortorella was doing last season.
New coach Willie Desjardins brings an upbeat style of hockey and while he’ll work to implement that, making sure Edler can get back to the brand of game he knows best how to play will be vital. His skill set is unlike what other defensemen have in Vancouver and if he can’t get it going, the offense may stagnate.
There’s no doubt it’s been a rough year for Michael Del Zotto.
He wound up in Alain Vigneault’s doghouse with the New York Rangers and was traded to Nashville where he wound up being “not a fit” with the Predators according to GM David Poile.
Now we’re almost three weeks into free agency and Del Zotto has yet to land with a team. That’s serving only to be a motivation for the 24-year-old defenseman as Luke Fox of Sportsnet shared.
“I’m just waiting for the right opportunity to prove myself again,” Del Zotto says, “and prove everybody who’s doubted me wrong.”
Del Zotto said he’s been speaking to “a bunch” of teams lately and he’s eager to show his offensive game can be a valuable asset to whatever team wants him.
The offensive game is fine, but it’s the defensive side of things that he’ll have to show aren’t an issue. Going back to his time playing for John Tortorella in New York, that was one of the issues that had to be figured out. At his age it’s not as if he’s a lost cause, but with how things have gone in the past year, including Barry Trotz saying his game has “slipped”, he’s proving to be a hard sell.